The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

The Book of Unknown Americans

A dazzling, heartbreaking page-turner destined for breakout status: a novel that gives voice to millions of Americans as it tells the story of the love between a Panamanian boy and a Mexican girl: teenagers living in an apartment block of immigrant families like their own.After their daughter Maribel suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras leave México and come to America. But upon settling at Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock compl...

Details The Book of Unknown Americans

TitleThe Book of Unknown Americans
Release DateJun 3rd, 2014
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Audiobook

Reviews The Book of Unknown Americans

  • Roxane
    What struck me most about this novel is the structure whose purpose becomes clear with the last chapter. It is quite interesting and poignant. This novel is a reminder of how everyone who comes to the United States brings a complicated storyw ith them. In The Book of Unknown Americans, immigrants from México, Venezuela, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, etc. live in an apartment complex in Delaware. Though they come from all over the Spanish speaking worl...
  • Brina
    Maribel Rivera is a normal teenaged girl in Patzcuaro, Mexico when one day she goes with her mother to her father's work site and suffers a traumatic brain injury. No longer the prize of Patzcuaro, Maribel retreats into a shell, suffers headaches, and can not complete even the most basic school work. Her parents Alma and Arturo Rivera would do anything for their daughter, look up schools for special needs children in the United States, and leave ...
  • Daniel Simmons
    Call me cold-hearted but I found this novel both overly simplistic and overly sentimental, with too few genuine characters and too many archetypes who say things to each other like, "Finding is for things that are lost. You don't need to find me, Mayor." Does anybody really talk like that? If the book's simplicity and sentimentality help its overall message -- hey, immigrants are people too! -- gain traction with large groups of readers in the St...
  • Julie
    The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez is a 2014 Knopf publication. I’ve been looking to expand my reading repertoire lately, so while browsing through the literary offerings, I came across this book. Checking this book out is like doing a 180 for me as I usually stick pretty close to my preferred genres. But, something about it spoke to me and so I decided to give it a try. So often we hear about laws, and issues, and the number...
  • Kkraemer
    According to our government, every American who earns $50,000 a year contributes $43.78 to welfare and food stamps. Many Americans resent this deeply. Many are very very committed to being sure that no one "gets away" with this $43.78, especially anyone who is here from South of the Border. "Those people….."All Americans should read this book about "those people." It presents a series of interconnected stories about a family who came to the U.S...
  • Melissa
    More than anything, I appreciate the fresh perspective and the eye-opening nature of this story. Immigration is a sensitive topic and a political platform in our country right now, there’s no denying that. Don’t worry, I’m not going to try and tackle that issue in this review. What I will say - I walked away from this story looking at things a little differently. It made me feel like the human aspect of the situation is too easily overlooke...
  • Alena
    I’ve waited to post a review of this novel as I try to wrap my mind (and words) around why I liked it so much. This book wants to be a lot of things – love story, issue-oriented novel, independent essays – which should make it a mess, but somehow all work together to make a book that really touched my heart.The story is told in alternating voices as we meet the residents of an apartment building in Delaware. All the residents are immigrants...
  • David
    This book could have been so much better than it was.As it is, it's a trainwreck. The only reason I gave it two stars instead of one is simply because it's bizarrely readable even in spite of the very little substance there is at hand.Where do I even begin with this books issues? The rhythm the book sets into -- Alma-narrated chapter, Mayor-narrated chapter, and brief bio of a tertiary character -- had potential. Yet the tertiary characters' chap...
  • Mariah Roze
    This book has been on my To-Read list forever, so I am glad I finally read it :)This book is told through many points-of-view, but in the book they all end up overlapping somehow. One family moves to the USA from Mexico after their daughter suffers a near-fatal accident. Their daughter ends up having a Traumatic Brain Injury. The family moves so she can go to one of the best special education schools. They settled down in the Redwood Apartments, ...
  • Victoria
    This is a quiet novel, powerful in its simplicity, it’s about the experience of coming to America and ultimately about love—between a man and a woman, parents for their children, community and country. This is not a dogmatic treatise on the immigrant debate nor does it romanticize or sentimentalize their lives, it’s about a journey ‘born of necessity or of longing.’Told in alternating voices and providing insights into the immigrant exp...
  • Trevor
    This was such a lovely, unexpected read. Poignant & powerful, Henriquez's prose is hauntingly beautiful. A tale about guilt & love & forgiveness, I loved all of the characters, specifically Maribel & Mayor & the relationship that blooms between them. I really enjoyed all of the POVs & believed deeply in the Alma & Arturo standpoint & how much they sacrificed so their daughter could have a chance to start over again. This is a great example of wha...
  • Maxwell
    [3.5 stars] I wish this had gone a bit deeper. I think the structure was unique but didn't necessarily add anything to the reading experience with the various one-off chapters of other character's stories. They were quite short and displayed the various experiences of immigrants, but didn't elevate the novel in any way. Each of their stories could have been its own novel, but within the framework of this novel they didn't work. I also felt that M...
  • Diane S ☔
    3.5 The immigrant debate and the need for immigrant reform is an issue that has been the forefront of the news in The United States for a number of months. I am not going to give my own opinion on this debate, only mention it as it refers to the timeliness of this novel.The book mostly centers on two families, one who come to the US from Panama and the devastation wrought by the invasion of the US in 1989 and the other family who come from Mexico...
  • Louise
    There is very little fiction covering the contemporary Latino immigrant experience so this book may have made the 2014 New York Times Notables List for its content. While the story is good, there is no subtly. The author's purpose may be to show the goodness of the "unknown Americans", but the characters are not well developed and the details of their lives are not realistic.Can it really be that a successful couple in Mexico who has researched U...
  • Jeannie
    Updated to 4 stars. I didn't want this book to end. I wanted to follow the characters and see where the rest of their lives took them. I recommend this one.
  • Ella
    Genre: Fiction, Contemporary~POV: Multiple points of view from immigrats living in DelawareWe have some re-occuring POVs from the Main Characters intertwined with vignettes from some of the side characters. I loved all the MCs and their stories felt incredibly real and raw. I felt like these could have been real people and it made the stories much more gripping as well.~Main Theme: Immigration~Arturo and his family move to America in order for hi...
  • Jana
    RE-READING:1) I listened to it the first time; this time I'll read the book.2) This is our Skype bookclub pick for this month3) I'll meet the author in Vermont in MayFINISHED 1st time: 2/12/15:I finished this book and wrote my review on my mobile device. Unfortunately, that device has gone the way of the dinosaur and my notes didn't make it to the cloud in time.For now:I loved this novel of various immigrants from all over Latin America living in...
  • Dianne
    Alma and Arturo come from Mexico to Delaware, of all places, in the hopes that their brain-damaged daughter, Maribel, can get better help at a special needs school in the U.S. Their story is interspersed with testimonials from men and women from Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Panama and other places. All of the stories and vignettes combine into a whole that tells the tale of one immigrant community in America and the struggles they face tryin...
  • Trish
    This story recounts the immigrant experience of a vast array of Latinos on the eastern central coast of America, in Delaware. It moves in for close-ups of two families in particular, one Panamanian and one Mexican. Both families are legal immigrants, one coming to the United States for medical care, the other for opportunity. Christina Henriquez manages to make the experiences of these two families ring true and universal. Especially interesting ...
  • Lynn
    I wanted to love this book more than I did. It’s the story of the Rivera family, who come to the US from Mexico, in hopes of finding some better treatment for their teenage daughter, Maribel, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an accident. It’s also the story of the Toro family from Panama, who came to America to seek a better life. When Mayor Toro and Maribel Rivera meet and start a relationship, they set in motion events that will ...
  • Naz (Read Diverse Books)
    Review can also be found at my blog: STARSAt the heart of The Book of Unknown Americans are the Riveras, who managed to secure work Visas after their 15-year-old daughter, Maribel, suffered a traumatic brain injury in Mexico. With legal authorization to work in the U.S., Arturo and Alma Rivera move to Delaware to be near a special-needs school that they hope will help restore their daughter to the lively teenager she onc...
  • Beverly
    This was a 4.5 read for me.This book is definitely a contender for a top read for me.Every now and then I read a book that just touches my heart. The Book of Unknown Americans is such a book. From the first pages I was captivated by the sustained voices of the characters written with such grace and dignity as I felt their humanity, hopefulness, and despair to do what they had to do ensure a better life for their children and often, times themselv...
  • K.
    Soooo I wrote an entire review of this book and Goodreads crapped out on me when I hit save. Excuse me while I cry forever. So let's bullet point this because it's easier:- This was beautifully written and there were some incredibly poignant lines about the immigrant experience and dealing with racism in America- Alma's chapters were definitely my favourites. They gave me a lot of feels. - Mayor's chapters were...kind of a mixed bag for me? I mea...
  • Debra
    Good book about a family that moves to Delaware to seek better educational opportunities for their daughter who suffered a brain injury in Mexico. I did like that toward the end of the book, Maribel's parents finally talk about the accident that caused her brain damage. Both talked about guilt and how their daughter is "not like before."The book also contains testimonials of individuals from various countries who are looking for a better life. Al...
  • Katherine
    ”Back then, all we wanted was the simplest things: to eat good food, to sleep at night, to smile, to laugh, to be well. We felt it was our right, as much as it was anyone’s, to have these things. Of course, when I think about it now, I see that I was naïve. I was blinded by the swell of hope and the promise of possibility, I assumed that everything that would go wrong in our lives already had.” Excuse me, I think I have something in my eye...
  • Diane Yannick
    One of the things that initially drew me to this book is that it takes place in my hometown of Newark, Delaware. Throughout I enjoyed references to local landmarks such as Bings Bakery and Newark Newsstand. However, as Henriquez gently revealed the characters' struggles and hearts, I forgot about the setting and became absorbed with the narrative. There were a couple things that set this book apart from most I've read about the immigrant experien...
  • Adira
    I read this book with the Writers of Color Book Club and I have to say, I am on the fence about this one. On one hand, the book was interesting due to it's cast of characters who all had a voice and the issues of immigration and how Latinos are seen in America were really intriguing to me since I very rarely see books written from this demographic of people in my TBR pile. Yet, I felt like the execution of the book was at odds with the story.For ...
  • Larry H
    I'd rate this 3.5 stars.Arturo and Alma Rivera lived a happy life in Mexico until their beautiful teenage daughter, Maribel, sustains a serious injury in an accident. Unsure if she'll ever be the same again, they migrate to the United States—Delaware, specifically—where Maribel will be able to attend a special school and hopefully begin to recover some semblance of normalcy. But America is difficult for the Riveras—the job Arturo secures to...